, February 23, 2005 (STAR) There’s life after text. And it’s back to voice for mobile value-added services (VAS).

Chikka Asia, a leading provider of enhanced mobile messaging services, recently launched a new audio content delivery platform that does just that – deliver voice content to cellular phone users: from actual celebrity voice calls going to waiting fans, to inspirational words set to background music that can give one goose-bumps.

"Once again, Chikka sets the trend in mobile information and entertainment, and once again, it is proving the cynics wrong," said Mikey Garrovillo, director for product development of Chikka Asia.

Chikka pioneered a hard-hitting, subscription-based celebrity texting service in 2003 that instantly became the country’s single biggest mobile VAS service.

Launched by Smart Communications as "Startxt," the service has since been made available to subscribers in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong through international carriers.

MMS and picture messaging services have also since been added to the bigger "StarPortal."

Enter 2005, Chikka pioneers again by launching its voice-based mobile VAS platform branded by Smart Communications as "StarCaller."

"After only one month, StarCaller has met a very encouraging response from mobile users who are choosing to get real celebrity voice calls on a subscription basis. Now, the equally exciting part is that one can actually forward these voice calls or audio content. Remember singing telegrams? Now think birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, New Year and all those great occasions. The various greetings we get on our phones will never be the same again," Garrovillo said.

As to the actual platform, Francis Trinidad, Chikka co-director for product development, said, "The innovation lies in creating synergies between existing technologies, the creativity in integrating systems and solutions for advanced mobile consumer markets like the Philippines that continue to rely on legacy platforms. It’s all about maximizing what is already there."

The StarCaller platform delivers audio-based content, including voice recordings, tones and music via standard voice channels integrated with SMS-based commands.

"We are not certain that the StarCaller platform is a world’s first. What we are sure of is that it is the first time voice-based VAS is proving itself as a serious mobile VAS revenue source in a land where text messaging still rules," Trinidad said.

Chikka Asia is a pioneer in wireless applications and services development, having created the world’s first mobile Instant Messaging in 2001 and proceeding to launch it in the coveted "SMS capital."

The company has since developed other integrated applications, including mobile-interactive TV, SMS-enabled auction sites, mobile matchmaking and mobile versions of Internet Relay Chat.

In 2002, Chikka Asia Inc., the company’s regional operating entity based in Manila, became the first mobile data enabler in the world to be ISO-certified under the 9001:2000 series.

By aligning its management and software development processes with international standards, Chikka has helped establish the region as a global hub for excellent wireless applications testing and development.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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